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Volume 21 No. 2


Anheuser-Busch is bringing back Club Bud as an official party spot for the Olympics.

The U.S. Olympic Committee sponsor recently secured a venue in London and plans to host three nights of parties, Aug. 9-11, during the final weekend of the London Games. The company’s U.S., United Kingdom and international divisions will be collaborating on the party.

A-B took Club Bud parties to Beijing, as well as to Turin and Vancouver.
Sources familiar with Budweiser’s plan said the party venue will be similar to the one the company had in Vancouver, which was a 19,000-square-foot, 1,000-person capacity, multilevel bar that had a concert stage. The Vancouver venue had several bars, a concert stage, elevated seating and lounge areas that were adjacent to a 2,646-square-foot dance floor. There were live DJs.

The three parties planned for London represent a slight decrease from what the brand has done at previous Olympics. A-B staged four parties in Turin, Italy, during the 2006 Winter Games, it doubled that total to eight in 2008 when its Budweiser brand was the official beer of the Beijing Games, and it hosted five parties in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Games.

Budweiser became the party planner for Team USA in 2006 after Sports Illustrated ended its two-decade reign as party host. Through the years, it has used Club Bud as a hospitality venue for key distributors and a way to garner media attention and buzz during the Olympics.

The venues have played host to many Olympians after competition, including snowboarders Seth Wescott, Gretchen Bleiler and Lindsey Jacobellis, and swimmers Michael Phelps and Natalie Coughlin. There also have been celebrity appearances such as “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm and singer Michael Bublé.

“It’s become the see and be-seen [spot] of the Olympics, which is a good thing for the brand,” said Mary O’Connor, The Marketing Arm’s vice president of Olympic marketing and global platforms, which does not work with Anheuser-Busch. “The Olympics are the place where all their key clients come together, all the sponsors come together and all the athletes come together. It’s not a bad place to have a party.”

Oakley hasn’t experienced its first Olympics as an official supplier of Team USA, but early returns on its investment convinced the brand to renew its agreement through 2020.

Financial terms of the eight-year extension were not available, but sources said it offers the U.S. Olympic Committee both cash and value-in-kind support. Oakley, which signed its first USOC agreement in the fall of 2010, will remain the official eyewear supplier of Team USA.

International Olympic Committee rules prohibit non-Olympic sponsors from featuring Olympians in advertising in the weeks prior to, during and after the Games. By signing a long-term agreement with the USOC, Oakley ensures it can promote its roster of marquee Olympians in their respective Summer and Winter Games, including American track star Lolo Jones, beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh, decathlete Bryan Clay, snowboarder Shaun White and skier Lindsey Vonn.

“We’ve always looked at the relationship with the USOC as both an obligation and an opportunity,” said Scott Bowers, Oakley’s senior vice president of global marketing and brand development. “As a small company, it was fine to work with Olympic athletes behind the scenes, but eventually we got big enough to where it became almost like ambush marketing. That’s when it became an opportunity for us to leverage the U.S. team marks, develop sunglasses and give back to the USOC.”

Oakley released a signature line of sunglasses last year and launched its “Beyond Reason” campaign in April for the London Games. The campaign involves commissioning artists to do paintings of Oakley athletes that capture what drives those athletes to succeed. The company will show the art in London on July 26, the day before the start of the 2012 Games. It is using “Beyond Reason” as a tag line in its Olympic marketing, as well.

Bowers said Oakley will launch a social media initiative during the Games. The company will host its athletes at a hospitality venue in London that it’s calling the Oakley Safe House. It will be a place where athletes can come and relax during the Olympics, and the company plans to have a website that bears the same name where it aggregates Twitter feeds and perspective from its athletes about the Olympics.

Details on that effort will be announced at a later date.